Impaired NLRP3 inflammasome function in elderly mice during influenza infection is rescued by treatment with nigericin
The NLRP3 inflammasome is activated in the lung during influenza viral infection; however, the impact of aging on inflammasome function during influenza infection has not been examined. In this study, we show that elderly mice infected with a mouse-adapted strain of influenza produced lower levels of IL-1β during in vitro and in vivo infection. Dendritic cells from elderly mice exhibited decreased expression of ASC, NLRP3, and capase-1 but increased expression of pro-IL-1β, pro-IL-18, and pro-IL-33 compared with dendritic cells from young infected mice. Treatment with nigericin during influenza infection augmented IL-1β production, increased caspase-1 activity, and decreased morbidity and mortality in elderly mice. Our study demonstrates for the first time, to our knowledge, that during influenza viral infection, elderly mice have impaired NLRP3 inflammasome activity and that treatment with nigericin rescues NLRP3 activation in elderly hosts.